Thousands of Sacramento Kings fans stayed at the building known until recently as Arco Arena long after the final buzzer of Wednesday night’s gut-wrenching overtime loss to the rival Los Angeles Lakers -- possibly the last NBA game ever in Sacramento.
Sacramento's 26 years as an NBA city likely came to an end
Wednesday night. The Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento
Kings, is on the verge of moving the team to Anaheim. That
made the nail biting, season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Lakers
an emotional evening, as a loud-but-melancholy sellout crowd rocked
the building formerly known as Arco Arena one last time.
The final buzzer of what's likely the final game in
Sacramento's NBA history sounded about 10 minutes ago, yet
thousands of fans are still here - standing, sitting, hugging,
holding signs and chanting.
"Here we stay," they chanted, and "Sac-ra-men-to."
Rich Bachman simply couldn't leave. The season ticket
holder from Year One shared some tears and a hug with his wife
staying, yep, kinda savoring the moment right now. I guess
we'll come back for the rodeo or the truck pull or something like
that, but no more Kings."
Rose Miller and her husband have also been season ticket
holders from the start. They got to their seats at the
building formerly known as Arco Arena well before the game
around the arena when I first got here, and I had to fight from
crying, because it might be the last time for us. And it
makes me very sad."
All souvenirs were 50 percent off. The team said it was
for "Fan Appreciation Night." Cynics said it looked like a
"clear the inventory" sale. Bobby Boarder stopped by and
Boarder:"We got some Christmas
ornaments, some knick-knacks and things that we can use in the
future, since, well, the Kings may not be here next year.
We're hoping and praying they will be, but it's not looking
Headed for Anaheim?
The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, has until Monday to
submit a formal request to the NBA to move to Anaheim. When
that happens, a majority of NBA owners must approve the
request. It's unclear when that vote would take place, but on
Thursday, the Maloofs will address the NBA Board of Governors in
New York City. Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin
Johnson will also address the owners Thursday - but says he's not
trying to block the Kings from moving.
Johnson:"I want the NBA to know
that even though we've had failed attempts in the past, I think
it's a new era in Sacramento. And whether the Kings are there
or not, our commitment is to go forward and build a new facility in
the next four years."
But if the Kings do leave Sacramento, luring another NBA team
won't be easy, says sports economist Dan Rascher. He runs a
Bay Area-based consulting firm and helped the Maloofs study an
early bid for a new arena about a decade ago. Rascher says
the city may end up paying more to attract a new NBA team than they
would just to keep the Kings from leaving in the first place.
Rascher:"If you think
about a team saying, the NBA says, OK, let's go back to Sacramento
at some point - well, guess who has all the leverage at that
point? The NBA does and its expansion franchise. They can
negotiate until they get the deal they want before they agree to
come to Sacramento. As it stands now, the Kings are already
there so they have less leverage."
Rascher says the Maloofs don't want to leave Sacramento,
Rascher:"I think they
feel like they've tried everything, every different way to build an
arena, and it hasn't happened. And I think that's why they're
A Game that Mirrored History
Green:"On behalf of my
teammates, coaching staff and Sacramento organization, we wanna
thank the greatest fans in the NBA!"
The Kings' Donte Green addressed the crowd just before
tipoff. The game itself started ugly. The Lakers' lead
reached 20 points. But then the game turned into an absolute
thriller as the Kings came all the way back.
The building was rocking, as it did in the Kings' strongest
years. Back then, the Kings and Lakers had an epic rivalry,
culminating in the 2002 playoffs when Sacramento fell just
short. So it was on this night. The Kings had a three
point lead with less than 10 seconds to go. But the Lakers
tied it, then dominated overtime.
So what might be the final NBA game in Sacramento turned out
to be a metaphor for the team's 26 years in town: a slow start,
some thrilling moments, but in the end: heartbreak.
Sacramento residents Rich and Sandy Bachman, Kings season ticket holders since the team moved to town in 1986, were still in their seats long after the game ended.
"This is our Team"
"God Save the Kings"
"You are Family!"
"Here we stay!"
Thousands of fans stayed long after the final buzzer, chanting "Here we stay!" and "Sacramento!"
The Only Maloof at the Game
Owners Joe, Gavin and George Maloof did not attend the game. The only member of the Maloof family that did is Adrienne Maloof, at center. She declined comment on the Kings' potential move.
Arco is Rocking
After trailing by 20 points, the Kings came back to take the lead late in the 4th quarter before falling in overtime. With one minute left in regulation, the sellout crowd shook the building like it did back in the team's heyday.